Introduction to color: Doing "magic": even though most of my kids
understand primary colors by first grade, we always have a few who don"t -
plus review never hurts. Using magenta( we discuss different reds), blue
and yellow tempera paint, I have them put a heavy blob of yellow on their
paper, clean their brush thoroughly, dip it into magenta and say the
following "magic" words: "abra-cadabra, abracadee - I mix my yellow with my
red paint and what do I see?" We continue with the other two pairs of
primaries until each child has a large splotch of orange, green and purple
on his/her page. I ask them what a visitor would think if they walked in
and saw only cups of primary colors, but just secondary colors on the page.
We also compare the various kinds of secondaries they got - which leads
naturally into the concept of intermediates. We spend the rest of the
period trying to get brown. Even kids who know the "magic" trick enjoy
this. (I used to do this in Kindergarten.)
Complementary colors: After an introduction to opposite colors using
after-images, we make an "opposites" picture. Fold a piece of 9x12 white
paper in a hamburger fold. On 1/2 of the paper, draw a picture of things
that have a normally accepted color. Sample instruction: In art class, you
know you can color things anything you want, but today only, we're going to
use only the most common color. For instance , if I say "sky", most of you
would think of what color first?" We end up drawing the outline (in pencil
only) of a red brick house, orange tree, grass, sky, cloud, and sun.
Certain fruits would work. List the "accepted" colors on the blackboard.
Then, using markers solidly, color eveything in the picture the OPPOSITE
color of what it "should" be: orange sky, red leaves, blue oranges, etc.
Hold the finished project at arm's length, stare at the picture for 30
seconds and then stare at the white half of the paper until the after-image
forms in the "real" colors.
Value Collage: Put out a wide variety of "colorless" materials: electrical
tape, tin foil, duct tape, cotton balls - anything in black, white, gray or
silver. (I start by asking what these materials have in common.) Offer a
choice of black, white or gray constriction paper as a background and let
'em go. You can enhance these with values of crayon or chalk.
Geometric shape: After eliciting the definition of shape as a closed, flat
figure, I point to an assortment of geometric cardboard shapes on each table
and ask what ALL these shapes have in common other than being made from
cardboard. This is a tough question (great higher-level thinking skills).
Usually one of my students will guess that they all have NAMES. We then
name as many geometric shapes as we can (in a first grade for gifted kids,
this is a LOT of shapes!) I draw an organic shape on the board and we see
that there is no one name that applies. I then draw a shape on a piece of
paper and ask how many shapes I have made. Most of my students see that
there are now TWO shapes. We discuss positive and negative space and a
little bit about good composition and filling our paper. Using the
geometric shapes as templates, the children create a picture or design in
pencil on 12x18 white construction paper. They do no freehand additions, so
those who decide to make trucks or snowmen or houses or robots have to be
very creative. The straight designs are just as diverse: some are very
symmetrical, some are very informal, etc. Overlapping is highly encouraged.
Once the work fills the page comfortably, the children go over the pencil
lines with wide black marker and fill every shape, positive and negative,
with oil pastel. They are not to color two adjacent shapes the exact same
color, so the focus is on all the shapes that have been created. You can
ask lots of questions about the resulting designs: i.e. Are all your shapes
geometric? How did you get irregular shapes if you only traced geometric
ones? Classroom teachers like the small muscle reinforcement of the tracing
and the kids just generally love the project. We follow this with a very
free organic/irregular shape project, so the children can see the effects of
different kinds of shapes on an artwork.
I'm posting these plans to the group because they can be used successfully
at several levels. I hope they are helpful to someone!